Along with sunshine, proper mowing and maintenance, adequate watering of turf grasses is required for a lawn to be the most eye-catching part of any landscape. East Texas rainfall amounts generally provide abundant volumes of natural water annually, however Mother Nature cannot be relied upon to provide needed moisture in a timely manner throughout the hot summer.
Water is one component homeowners have control over when it comes to managing turf. Deep watering with less frequency is recommended, not only to promote deep root development, but to conserve water as well.
The general rule in clay soil during the heat of the summer is for lawns to receive one to two inches of water per week. The source of the water can be either natural, manual or a combination of both.
For more information on proper watering practices, check out our blog article entitled Are You Watering Enough?’.)
August heat encourages growth of a very common summer weed called Lespendeza, commonly known as Japanese clover. This is another invasive interloper frequently found in east Texas turf with the ability to crowd out native plants (including turf grass) if allowed to grow freely.
Lespedeza is a flat, mat-forming summer annual with wiry stems and dark green leaves. It has a taproot that grows close to the ground making mowing to manage it difficult. Thin turf and dry compacted areas are ideal for growth.
Hand pulling as a means of management is typically not a viable option due to the extensive perennial root system of the plant.
Several types of turf fungus are commonly found in east Texas, with St. Augustine grass often a frequent target (although other types of turf can also be affected). While each species of fungus has variations in their appearance, the causes and management of them have many similarities.
Three of the most recurrent varieties of turf fungus in our area are:
- Take-all Patch, with symptoms including yellowing grass blades and the easy removal of stolons from the ground with a gentle tug.
- Gray Leaf Spot is most troublesome in shady areas and is identified by the formation of brown to ash colored spots on the leaf blades. If left untreated, lesions may form, with severe cases exhibiting a scorched appearance to the turf.
- Circular patches of light brown, thin looking grass is frequently a sign of Brown Patch Fungus. The leaf blade in this variety becomes rotted and can easily be pulled from the runners.
Lawn fungus is generally found in areas with warm to hot temperatures experiencing dry conditions when improper watering practices are followed.
Some basic procedures that will assist in the prevention of fungus formation include:
- Water thoroughly rather than frequently (see blog article, June 2018 or newsletter article, ‘Summer Watering’ in this month’s newsletter).
- Apply a compost topdressing each year to incorporate additional organic material into the soil.
- Aerate annually to prevent soil compaction and thatch.
- Keep mower blades sharp and mower deck at the correct mowing height for your turf type (see blog article, March 2018).
- Avoid mower and foot traffic through infected areas to reduce spreading.